5 Most Common Deficiencies & How to Fix Them Naturally
By: Jordyn Cormier
Nutritional deficiencies are more common than you probably think. While Americans tend to consume more than enough calories, we are, as a population, generally lacking in the nutrition department. We are eating mostly empty calories that provide little nutritional value. But even the slightest deficiency in minerals and vitamins can have profound consequences on your health.
In order for your body to function at its peak, we need rounded and balanced levels of all the vitamins and minerals the body requires. Here are 5 of the most common nutritional deficiencies, along with some natural tips for promoting internal balance:
More of a hormone than a vitamin, vitamin D plays a huge part in immune system regulation, hormonal balance and calcium’s absorption into the bones. But according to the EWG, 95 percent of US adults are deficient in vitamin D. So, with those odds, you probably are, too.
The best way to get vitamin D is to expose as much of your skin as possible to direct sunlight for about 10 minutes a day. But unfortunately for many of us, especially northerners, the sun simply isn’t strong enough all year to encourage the body to begin vitamin D synthesis. So, we either need to focus hard on getting it through diet (which is challenging) or supplement. Powerful food sources of this vitamin include cod liver oil, salmon, mackerel, sardines and raw milk dairy. For vegans, the best sources are sunlight or supplementation. Opt for D3 over D2 when buying supplements as it has been shown to be more bioavailable and effective in the body. Just be sure to find a brand that is derived from lichen or algae rather than animal products.
Magnesium is alluringly known as the “relaxation mineral,” but over 60 percent of us don’t eat enough of it. Even worse, most of us are steadily chipping away at the magnesium we actually have in storage throughout our everyday lives, from drinking coffee to stress to eating refined sugars.
Involved in over 300 enzymic reactions in the body, magnesium plays a role in supporting protein synthesis, blood pressure regulation, blood sugar control, muscle and nerve function, and so much more. If you have taken a powerful magnesium supplement in the past, you may have noticed the laxative effect. It is much more pleasurable to get your magnesium topically or through diet. Taking regular epsom salt baths is a great way to boost magnesium levels, as the mineral is effectively absorbed by the skin.
On that note, there are high quality magnesium oils that work well, too. In terms of diet, great sources of magnesium include spinach, chard, dark chocolate, pumpkin seeds and almonds. Ditching excessive coffee and getting a handle on your stress levels will make the world of difference, too.
You need iron in order for you body to make hemoglobin in your blood, so it’s pretty darn important. Iron deficiency, however, is the most common nutritional deficiency in the world, and it is especially prevalent among women. While grass-fed beef and liver are traditionally the most potent sources of iron, vegans and vegetarians can reap the benefits of spirulina. Just one ounce of this algae powder contains over 40 percent of your daily needs. Other iron-rich plant foods include lentils, spinach, black beans and dark chocolate.
There are a lot of B vitamins—8 to be precise—and they all have different functions in the body. But they all work together to support healthy and sustained energy levels in the body.
Perhaps the rarest of the B vitamins is B12. This vitamin is essential for red blood cell production, DNA synthesis, and healthy nerve and brain function. A mild deficiency of B12 can manifest as impaired mental function and low energy. Vegans and vegetarians can have a tough time getting enough B12 if they aren’t cautious. A good vegan source is fortified nutritional yeast, or supplementation. Non-vegan sources include grass-fed beef and beef liver, sardines, salmon, mackerel, feta cheese, nutritional yeast and eggs.
This underestimated vitamin protects us from heart disease, promotes healthy growth and development, helps prevent cancer and supports bone, brain and skin health. Vitamin K2 is found in egg yolks, grass-fed butter, chicken liver and cheeses, but vegans can find it in fermented products like natto and sauerkraut. Grazing animals get their K2 from grazing on nourishing grasses like wheatgrass. Since our bodies aren’t designed to break down the tough fibers in grasses, juicing your own wheatgrass daily can also be a powerful way to bypass the animals and supplement your body with important nutrients, including K2.
Even the mildest chronic deficiency can have profound effects on your health. When you balance your diet and lifestyle, you balance your body. It’s incredible what a little bit of healthy eating, self-care and stress management can do on the cellular level.